Deathbed Experiences as Evidence for the Afterlife. This week I am talking to J. Steve Miller.
The thesis of this book is quite simple and intuitive: If you want to look for evidence for the afterlife, observe the dying, to see if there’s any indication that they’re going somewhere. Researchers are finding that several experiences related to death are global and quite common, including:
Primary Deathbed Experiences, where over 80% of the dying in a hospice unit report vivid experiences with deceased relatives and angels Terminal Lucidity, where people lose brain function over time, only to regain full consciousness to say their goodbyes before dying Shared Death Experiences, where healthy people experience a part of their loved one’s death experienceCrisis Apparitions, where people otherwise unaware of a person’s death somehow know of the person’s death After Death Communications, where people claim to receive visits from deceased loved ones.
To discover if these can be explained away as lies, exaggerations, or hallucinations, highly respected intellects, connected to many of our top universities, have studied phenomena at death for significant portions of their lives and assessed them for afterlife evidence. Dr. Miller, in a winsome, popular style, discusses many studies and documented reports that point towards an afterlife.
Steve’s current research/writing obsession is on a sister experience to near-death experiences (NDEs) called deathbed experiences (DBEs). NDEs occur when people almost die, but recover. DBEs occur around the time of final death. They are extremely common; a recent study in a New York hospice found over 80 percent of their patients experiencing DBEs, when interviewed daily.
Steve uses the term “deathbed experience” broadly to refer to a cluster of phenomena that occur around death, including:
Deathbed visions proper (where the dying claim to see and communicate with deceased relatives and angelic beings prior to death),
Terminal lucidity (where people whose brains have been deteriorating for some time, to the point of being comatose, suddenly communicate quite lucidly just prior to death),
Shared death experiences (where those who are not dying experience something of the transition of a loved one),
Crisis apparitions (where people have visions/sensations that a loved one has passed, even when they didn’t know the person was ill),
After death communications (where people claim to have experiences with loved ones after they died.)
In his earlier study of near-death experiences, he found some studies of deathbed experiences and decided to find out what research had been done on them through the years. He purposed to see if these studies provided any evidence for an afterlife. “Maybe I’ll find 100 or so relevant sources to make for a tidy dissertation topic,” he thought.
About 500 sources later, he realized he was onto something big. A wealth of research has been done over the last 140 years, but someone needed to bring it together and try to make sense of it. Amazingly, many of the studies were done by top-notch intellectuals connected to some of our top universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.
He has currently found over 800 resources and have transformed the dissertation into two readable volumes of about 250 pages each. The first volume is now available at Amazon.com as both a Kindle (digital) and print version. The second volume should go live sometime early in 2022. Since he’s documented it meticulously, he hopes that physicians, apologists, anthropologists and philosophers of religion will be inspired to keep moving this research forward.